Last week The Washington Post created a veritable desert island list of foods that “every Washingtonian must try.” While we aren’t a city known for a plethora of native foods, the 40 Eats feature in the Weekend section outlined a wide variety of dishes that shape our metropolitan area. Showcasing the melting pot that the area has become (as well as the high quality of eateries that abound), there were a number of Capitol Hill locations that made the list. The homemade pop tarts at Ted’s Bulletin were included, as were Buffalo & Bergen’s sodas and a rich lamb and clams entree from Rappahannock Oyster Bar (both at Union Market). Kimchi ramen from Toki Underground was valued, along with an Italian sub from A. Litteri and the (of course) macarons from the Sweet Lobby. While not solely Hill-centric, the nocciola gelato at Pitango also made the list.
Not a bad showing for the neighborhood (17 percent of the list). Congrats to those who did.
The article made me hungry, but also got me to thinking: what would I tell people are the must-try dishes of Capitol Hill? I don’t dispute any of those that made the Washington Post list, but after eating around the neighborhood for almost ten years, I would add a few more locations to my Hill-focused culinary passport. How many of these locations can stamp your palette passport?
- Sweet corn tamales at Tortilla Cafe. Inexpensive, maybe meal, maybe snack. Served warm with sour cream, these substantial little packets are comfort food on a cold day.
- Croissants and pain au chocolat from Batter Bowl Bakery. Yes, this H Street cafe is pretty new, but the high quality pastries are buttery, sweet, crisp, and addictive.
- We may not have had the first Matchox, but the location on Barracks Row continues to attract the masses. Their pizza has fans and haters, but I would steer you to the prosciutto and black mission fig pie. Sweet and savory at one time, the consistencies meld and melt into lovely bites of Italian flavors.
- The Hill is home to the original Good Stuff Eatery, and while I may go elsewhere for a burger the toasted marshmallow milkshake is almost worth the spotty service and wait time. It’s a once-in-a-while treat, but one not easily replicated.
- If you know me you know I like a good gin and tonic, and the Rosemary gin and tonic at Wisdom gives a spicy twist to a classic cocktail. Many other drinks at this neighborhood bar on Pennsylvania Avenue SE are creative and use more exotic ingredients, but for me the classed up traditional is just as exciting.
- Aside from the Pretzel Bakery being one of the few places I can walk to from home, for food or drink, the soft pretzels there when warm from the oven are like a drug – some people can easily pack away two or three of the airy, salty knots of heaven before they are aware of their surroundings.
I’ve got many more favorite dishes from places throughout the Hill, but to me these represent a meal (or two) I’d want to share with out-of-town friends and tourists from far-flung regions like Cleveland Park and the Petworth. Yes, the list is a little carb-heavy, but perhaps that is part of the indulgence that makes these items stand out.
Have a favorite dish, snack or drink on the Hill? If you had one meal to bring a friend to in the neighborhood, where would it be?